Ben Matheson, KYUK - Bethel
Ben Matheson is a reporter at KYUK in Bethel.
The Bethel City Council heard hours of passionate testimony Tuesday night urging them to protest anticipated applications to sell liquor. Many in the capacity crowd asked the council to consider the consequences of local sales in a region that suffers disproportionate effects from alcohol abuse and related violence.
More than 100 soldiers will train in the Bethel area over the next week and a half to build arctic operational expertise and cultivate the next generation of National Guard soldiers. Members of the Alaska Army National Guard’s 297th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade are descending on the YK Delta to polish their arctic skills.
Bethel could see its first liquor store in four decades if the Bethel Native Corporation goes ahead with plans to open a package store and it clears regulatory hurdles.
Despite having no quorum and no vote, tribal members at the Calista-sponsored Yukon Kuskokwim Governance Convention on Monday decided to move ahead with an interim step toward unifying the regional politically. Leaders put the future of a proposed regional tribal government first in the hands of tribal councils and set a deadline of 30 days for them to vote. If successful, the proposal would then go before individual tribal
voters who would vote yes or no on it.
Alaska’s attorney general has named the Fairbanks district attorney as Bethel’s new district attorney. J. Michael Gray will begin in Bethel April 1 and will replace June Stein, who was fired last month.
Three Village Public Safety Officers have been selected to advance in the VPSO Arming Pilot Project with training this month in Sitka. 21 VPSOs initially showed interest in taking part. There were seven earlier this year still in the process.
Following the announcement that Swanson’s grocery store would be closing, a rapid response team from the Alaska Department of Labor was dispatched to Bethel Wednesday. The specialists were sent to assist the 80 employees from Swanson’s grocery store who will lose their jobs when the store closes Friday.
OMNI enterprises is shutting down their large Swanson’s Grocery store in Bethel. The store occupies a brand-new building and is the only competitor for the Alaska Commercial store there. As they liquidate their inventory with a half-off sale, customers are swarming the store to take advantage of sales. Many also lament the loss to the community.
The Calista Corporation announced a record dividend Tuesday, totaling just over $5 million. The dividend amount is $3.80 per share, which works out to about $380 for the average shareholder with 100 shares.
The state is expecting a bigger run of king salmon on the Kuskokwim this summer, but still well below average. State managers say they expect strong conservation measures to continue in 2015 to ensure enough fish make it up the river to spawn. Leading up to the season, managers are seeking early input to make the season a success.
Bethel Police have arrested 27-year-old Mark Charlie Junior in connection with the suspected homicide of 26-year-old LeeAnn Berlin. Joe Corbett is a Lieutenant for the Bethel Police Department.
State Troopers are investigating a suspected homicide in Kotlik. 28-year-old Jerald Fancyboy was found dead Saturday in a home.
It’s just in the planning stage, but the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation is working towards a new $250-million health care center. They say the current facility, which serves people from 58 YK Delta communities, needs to be updated and needs more room to keep up with a growing population.
Efforts to establish tribal co-management of Kuskokwim salmon are slowly progressing. A steering committee is in Bethel to sketch out the future of who regulates the river. Kuskokwim fishermen are eager to be managers, instead of simply advisers.
Village Public Safety Officers in Western Alaska will be participating in a pilot program that could make them the first VPSOs in the state to carry weapons in their job. Seven experienced officers are in the middle of psychological evaluations right now and are advancing towards training.
Bethel’s Pete Kaiser is the 2015 Kuskokwim 300 champion. Kaiser and his team crossed the finish line in Bethel at 5:31 Sunday morning with a team of nine dogs in the 36th running of the race. Kaiser is the first local musher in 29 years to win the race.
Twenty-five mushers are set to race from Bethel to Aniak and back in the 36th running of the Kuskokwim 300. After a couple winter warmups, and little snow, this year’s trail follows the truck road on the river almost exclusively to Aniak and back, cutting out the loop near Whitefish Lake.